Reviewing the 2005 Draft

When the Cubs made 18-year-old Utah prep standout Mark Pawelek their first-round selection in last year's draft, they did so having already "unofficially" come to terms with the flashy left-hander.  &nbsp

The Cubs chose Pawelek with the 20th overall pick in the draft, and by the time the organization had made its third selection (Ole Miss right-hander Mark Holliman) in the third round, they formally announced the signing of their top pick.

Pretty fast work, considering there was the usual questions looming over Pawelek as a Scott Boras-associated client. The southpaw went on to strike out 56 in 43 innings for the Arizona Rookie League Mesa Cubs en route to being named the league's top prospect by Baseball America.

Asked what he'd already learned in his brief professional career, Pawelek told Inside The Ivy, "Can't throw a fastball by everyone now," with some degree of disappointment.

Thus far in 2006, Pawelek has yet to make an appearance on the minor league circuit. Currently in Extended Spring Training in Mesa, he is expected to headline the Boise Hawks' opening roster when the short-season, Class Low-A affiliate begins regular season play later this month.

The Top 10

Donald Veal (Second Round, Pima CC, Ariz.): A left-hander who drew comparisons to Dontrelle Willis right out of the gate, Veal posted a 2.48 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 29 innings for Boise a season ago. Now on the full-season venue at Peoria this year, he is one strikeout shy of the farm system lead in K's with 66 in 55 2/3 innings. Veal currently has the lowest average against of any starter in the farm system at .177 with 33 hits allowed.

Mark Holliman (Third Round, Ole Miss): Holliman went straight into the starting rotation at High-A Daytona and has fared relatively well (3-3, 3.36 ERA) behind ace Sean Gallagher in 11 starts. He signed in mid-to-late August and joined the organization's Instructional League camp in Arizona after missing out on his professional debut last season.

Mike Billek (Supplemental Third Round, Central Florida): A respectable debut in 13 starts (3.62 ERA, 54 2/3 innings) between Boise and Peoria last season, the right-hander was bombed in the starting rotation earlier this season with the Chiefs before a temporary move to the bullpen righted the ship. He earned a promotion to Daytona Monday after going 4-1 with a 1.53 ERA in 17 2/3 innings from relief. He says the plan is to return to a starting role at Daytona.

Dylan Johnston (Fourth Round, Hamilton High School, Ariz.): A left-handed hitting shortstop, Johnston got off to a rough start in the Arizona Rookie League with only one hit in his first 21 at-bats for the Mesa Cubs. He signed with the Cubs after turning down a full scholarship from St. Mary's College in the process. He was assigned to Peoria for the start of '06 and after posting respectable numbers in his first month, he proceeded to go on the DL (thumb) and has struggled since with six hits in his last 51 at-bats to lower his season average to .198. He also leads the system with 13 errors defensively.

Scott Taylor (Fifth Round, Hermitage High School, Va.): Taylor struggled in eight starts between Mesa and Boise last season and began 2006 in Extended Spring Training. He got the call up to Peoria and has been generally solid in seven outings with a 2.95 ERA in 39 2/3 innings.

Kyle Reynolds (Sixth Round, Baylor): A versatile left-handed bat that can play all infield positions, Reynolds showcases some occasional pop. The son of former major leaguer Craig Reynolds, he has gotten a good amount of playing time at third base with Peoria recently after beginning the year in Extended Spring Training.

David "Trey" Taylor (Seventh Round, Baylor): A left-hander, Taylor appeared in two games for the Mesa Cubs last season, totaling four innings. He's not currently with any of the Cubs' minor league affiliates and at last check wasn't with the organization in Extended Spring Training, either.

Jake Muyco (Eighth Round, North Carolina State): The only catcher drafted in the top 10 rounds, Muyco has struggled with the bat in his brief professional career with a combined .216 average. He and 2004 third-round pick Mark Reed have divided up the catching duties this season at Peoria.

Matt Avery (Ninth Round, Virginia): A starter throughout most of his career with the Cavaliers in the ACC, the right-hander has appeared exclusively in relief for Peoria this season and has the lowest ERA (1.41) on the Chiefs' pitching staff in 32 innings.

Joe Simokaitis (10th Round, Nebraska): The third of three shortstops drafted in the top 10 rounds, Simokaitis showed good plate discipline in college and has continued to do so post-draft. His final year in the Big XII was the strongest he'd had average-wise (.310), but he's since struggled to find his groove after the draft with a .190 average in 51 games at Peoria last season, and a .225 mark in 47 games thus far in '06 with Daytona. His 10 errors defensively are tied for the second most in the farm system this year.

Draft and Follows

Cubs Director of Player Development Oneri Fleita told Inside The Ivy over the weekend that the organization had signed "a handful" of fifth-year college seniors from last year's draft that will fall in as draft and follows, but would not specify who.

The Cubs officially came to terms with their first 14 picks in last year's draft, and 19 of their first 20 overall. OF Tyler Graham was the organization's 14th round pick, but elected to return for another season at Oregon State in the Pac 10.

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